Memorial Day 1995

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

(Psa 9)  I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. {2} I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. {3} When my enemies turn back, They shall fall and perish at Your presence. {4} For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. {5} You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. {6} O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; Even their memory has perished. {7} But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. {8} He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. {9} The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. {10} And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. {11} Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. {12} When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. {13} Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, {14} That I may tell of all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation. {15} The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. {16} The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah {17} The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. {18} For the needy shall not always be forgotten; The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. {19} Arise, O LORD, Do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged in Your sight. {20} Put them in fear, O LORD, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah

(Luke 6:27-38)  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. {29} “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. {30} “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. {31} “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. {32} “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. {33} “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. {34} “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. {35} “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. {36} “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. {37} “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. {38} “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Divine Providence 251: The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he reflects that wars are permitted and in them the slaughter of so many men, and the plundering of their wealth.

It is not from the Divine Providence that wars occur, because they involve murders, plunderings, violence, cruelties and other terrible evils which are diametrically opposed to Christian charity. Still they cannot but be permitted because, since the time of the most ancient people, meant by Adam and his wife, treated of above (n. 241), men’s life’s love has become such that it wills to rule over others, and finally over all; and also to possess the wealth of the world, and finally all wealth. These two loves cannot be kept in fetters, for it is according to the Divine Providence that everyone is allowed to act from freedom in accordance with reason, as may be seen above (n. 71-99); and without permissions man cannot be led from evil by the Lord, and consequently cannot be reformed and saved. For unless evils were allowed to break out, man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them. Hence it is that evils cannot be repressed by any act of Providence; for if they were they would remain shut in, and like a disease, such as cancer and gangrene, they would spread and consume everything vital in man.

[2]  For man from birth is like a little hell, between which and heaven there is perpetual discord. No man can be withdrawn from his hell by the Lord unless he sees that he is in hell and wishes to be led out; and this cannot be done without permissions, the causes of which are laws of the Divine Providence. This is why there are lesser and greater wars, the lesser between owners of estates and their neighbours, and the greater between the sovereigns of kingdoms and their neighbours. The lesser and the greater differ only in this, that the lesser are kept within certain bounds by national law, and the greater by international law; and that, while both the lesser and the greater are willing to transgress their own laws, the lesser cannot, and the greater can, yet still within the limits of possibility.

[5]  That wars in this world are governed by the Divine Providence of the Lord is acknowledged by the spiritual man but not by the natural man, except that, when a festival is appointed on account of a victory, he may then return thanks on his knees to God that He has given the victory; and except also by a few words before going into battle. But when he returns to himself he ascribes the victory either to the prudence of the general or to some measure or incident in the course of the battle which had not been thought of, by which nevertheless the victory was decided.

[6]   It may be seen above (n. 217), that the Divine Providence, which is called fortune, operates in the most individual of even trivial affairs, and if you acknowledge the Divine Providence in these you will certainly acknowledge it in the affairs of war. Moreover, successes and incidents in warfare brought to a favourable conclusion are in common language called the fortune of war; and this is the Divine Providence, especially in the counsels and designs of the general, even although he at the time and also afterwards may ascribe it all to his own prudence. This he may do if he will, for he is at full liberty to think in favour of the Divine Providence or against it, and indeed in favour of God or against Him; but he should know that no part whatever of the counsel and design is from himself: it all flows in from heaven or from hell, from hell by permission, from heaven by Providence.

Memorial Day Sermon

A.  Introduction

1.  Memorial Day is a time to remember the gift of others

2.  Particularly important this year because this Memorial Day falls between the 50th anniversary of the end of Word War II in Europe and the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Japan.

B.  Main Body

1.  We are extremely fortunate to be separated from a World War by 50 years

a.  But it also means that we have been isolated from its lessons

(1)  The horror of the bombing in Oklahoma City brings it back

(a)  London during the blitz

(b)  Hamburg

(c)  Tokyo

(d)  The atomic bombs

(e)  Serve to illustrate the power of evil

i.  and the lengths which the Lord will go to protect us from it

2.  The Lord does not will that we fight wars

a.  But there are times when evil wells up and exposes itself

b.  (Passages about how evil has to be exposed and rejected lest it infect and destroy)

c.  DP 251:1 For unless evils were allowed to break out, man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them. Hence it is that evils cannot be repressed by any act of Providence; for if they were they would remain shut in, and like a disease, such as cancer and gangrene, they would spread and consume everything vital in man.

3.  The Lord permits that we fight wars

a.  Because of the way it illustrates His own battles against hell for our sakes

(1)  DP 251:3,4 [3]  There are many other reasons stored up in the treasury of Divine Wisdom why the greater wars with kings and rulers, involving as they do murders, plunderings, violence and cruelties, are not prevented by the Lord, either in their beginning or in their progress, until in the end the power of one or the other has been so reduced that he is in danger of destruction. Some of these reasons have been revealed to me, and among them is this: that all wars, although they may be civil in character, represent in heaven states of the Church and are correspondences. Such were all the wars described in the Word, and such also are all wars at this day. The wars described in the Word are those which the Children of Israel waged with various nations, as with the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. Moreover, when the Children of Israel, who represented the Church, departed from their precepts and statutes and fell into the evils which were represented by those nations, for each nation with which the Children of Israel waged war signified some particular kind of evil, then they were punished by that nation. For example, when they profaned the holy things of the Church by foul idolatries they were punished by the Assyrians and the Chaldeans, because Assyria and Chaldea signify the profanation of what is holy. What was signified by the wars with the Philistines may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH (n. 50-54).
[4]  Similar things are represented by the wars of the present day, wherever they occur; for all things which take place in the natural world correspond to spiritual things in the spiritual world, and all spiritual things have relation to the Church. It is not known in this world which kingdoms in Christendom represent the Moabites and the Ammonites, which the Syrians and the Philistines, and which the Chaldeans and the Assyrians, and the others with whom the Children of Israel waged war; and yet there are peoples who represent them. Moreover, the quality of the Church on earth and what the evils are into which it falls, and for which it is punished by wars, cannot be seen at all in the natural world; because in this world externals only are manifest, and these do not constitute the Church. However, this is seen in the spiritual world where internal things appear, and in these is the Church itself; and there all are conjoined according to their various states. The conflicts of these in the spiritual world correspond to wars which on both sides are governed according to correspondence by the Lord in accordance with His Divine Providence.

(2)  Evil wants to bring others into its own camp

(a)  We look at the films and wonder how it could have happened

(b)  Sometimes we look back on the events in our own lives and wonder the same thing

(c)  The same principles are at work here

i.  We can learn important lessons about ourselves from studying the history of nations

C.  Conclusion

1.  Remember those who gave up their safe homes to spend years in foreign countries

2.  Remember those who risked their lives

3.  Remember those who gave their lives

a.  For principle

b.  To protect innocent life

c.  To do what they believed with all their hearts to be right.

d.  Passage from TCR about charity with a soldier.

(1)  TCR 414 One’s country is more a neighbor than a single community, because it consists of many communities, and consequently love towards the country is a broader and higher love. Moreover, loving one’s country is loving the public welfare. One’s country is the neighbor, because it is like a parent; for one is born in it, and it has nourished him and continues to nourish him, and has protected and continues to protect him from injury. Men ought to do good to their country from a love for it, according to its needs, some of which are natural and some spiritual. Natural needs relate to civil life and order, and spiritual needs to spiritual life and order. That one’s country should be loved, not as one loves himself, but more than himself, is a law inscribed on the human heart; from which has come the well-known principle, which every true man endorses, that if the country is threatened with ruin from an enemy or any other source, it is noble to die for it, and glorious for a soldier to shed his blood for it. This is said because so great should be one’s love for it. It should be known that those who love their country and render good service to it from good will, after death love the Lord’s kingdom, for then that is their country; and those who love the Lord’s kingdom love the Lord Himself, because the Lord is the all in all things of His kingdom.

Remember Not The Sins Of My Youth

Remember Not The Sins Of My Youth

Toronto, September 30, 2007

Holy Supper Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD. (Psa. 25, 6-7)

  1. Some people resist attending the Holy Supper because they have heard that it is the “most holy” act of worship
    1. Somehow they get the idea that this means it is an act of worship reserved for the “most holy,” that someone who is not yet fully regenerated should not approach.
    2. The Holy Supper is for all those who wish to eventually become regenerated.
    3. The Holiness comes from your approach to the Lord, and His near approach through the bread and wine
  2. What’s really important is self-examination.
    1. It is essential that we look critically at our own actions and the motivations behind them so that we don’t deceive ourselves into thinking we are doing much better spiritually than we really are.
    2. Certainly it can be painful to examine one’s own motives and discover that they aren’t quite as pure as we’d like to believe, but certainly it is better to discover the problem here and now where we can do something about it than to miss it entirely. That’s why the Lord taught:
      1. “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you   to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”1
        1. But simply discovering evils so we can feel guilty about them is not the point. The point is that evils are to be found so that they can be removed, and we can be reborn into spiritual life.
          1. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of meeting with someone to try to solve a problem. You describe what you think the problem is and the response is, “it’s not my fault.”
            1. Perhaps, from a management point of view, determining who’s fault it is might be important as some future point. But isn’t your response likely to be, “okay, it’s not your fault – but what can we do right now to fix the problem?”
            2. In terms of your own personal spiritual growth feeling guilty isn’t the goal – because really, through our heredity, everybody is already guilty of everything! What the Lord wants you to do is fix the problem – to change the behaviour that is hurting yourself and hurting others.
          2. Self-examination is not a goal in itself, it is just the first step in a process that leads to spiritual health and eternal life. Therefore, the Lord further taught in that same discourse how the shepherd goes out to seek the lamb that is lost2, and rejoices when he finds it and restores it to the flock.
            1. The Lord is not an angry Father that turns away from us when we fail. He came on earth to show us that He is the Good Shepherd who will come searching for us in the darkness of our souls, and who rejoices when He can help us find our way back from whatever personal wilderness in which we are lost.
            2. We also need to reflect for a moment on the Book of Life where all the events, thoughts, and affections of our lives are recorded – but when we change our lives, we change what is recorded.
              1. It is an extremely important principle of the Spiritual World that no one is punished in the other life for any sin committed in this world, as we read in this extract from the third lesson:
                1. Heaven and Hell 509 When evil spirits are in [the] second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. … And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does. … Good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return….
              2. When we die and enter the spiritual world, we are first in a state of introduction, a state where all that is expected of us is that we get used to the idea and reality of eternal life. Eventually, everyone completes that part of their preparation and is ready to move on into a state where the real character, or ruling love, is revealed.
                1. This is accomplished by having our natural inhibitions gradually removed along with the fear of the loss of reputation, honour, and gain.

 

  • The person who, while in the world, was outwardly generous and helpful but inwardly seethed with hatred and contempt for those he helped, will no longer be able to hide his true feelings. Although he may have lived a life that was outwardly perfect, he will now begin to act out his hatred and be punished for it.
  • On the other hand, a person who struggled with a difficult life in the world, who made mistakes and overcame them, who learned from the errors they made and looked for the good in others will find themselves delighting in the freedom they find as they discover themselves finally able to do the good and kind things they had always wanted to do.
  • What about the mistakes, the hidden sins of the past? Since they no longer correspond to the ruling love, there is nothing to bring them forth – they are gone forever.
  • The deeds that are done in the world of spirits as the true ruling love is opened and revealed are the ones that we are credited with or blamed for.
    1. It’s good news indeed that hour sins will not be remembered in the world of spirits – but neither will our good deeds. The slate is truly wiped clean, and we begin to write anew only those things that correspond to our ruling love.
    1. Since being human, we are inclined to think ourselves very clever, we sometimes do really stupid, evil, and harmful things.
      1. As the Psalmist prayed for the Lord’s mercy, and begged that He not remember the sins of his youth, so we too have things in our past that we are no doubt ashamed of, burdens of guilt that we carry around.
        1. And the hells take great delight in reminding us of them at those times when we are just beginning to feel that we have a handle on life.
        2. We know that the Lord has the Book of Life in His hands, and we feel that since He is perfect, He finds our imperfections offensive, that they stand out in his eyes.
      2. And we believe this in spite of the fact that the Lord repeatedly tells us in the Word that He loves us in spite of our imperfections. He loves us for what we become through our struggles, not what we might have briefly been in a moment of weakness.
        1. Remember the prodigal son: And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.3
          1. And remember the woman taken in the very act of adultery: When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”4
  • Today, we celebrate the Holy Supper.
  • It is a celebration because it is a symbol of the Lord’s close presence in our lives.
  • It is a celebration because it is a symbol of the Lord’s own system for finding and removing those things in us that would prevent us from reaching the life of heaven.
  • It is a celebration because it looks to the healing of the tired and wounded spirit, and the uplifting of those who fallen in spirit.
  • It is a celebration because that which is lost has been found: “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.5 Amen.  

    First Lesson: PSA 25

    To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. {2} O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. {3} Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. {4} Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. {5} Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. {6} Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. {7} Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD. {8} Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. {9} The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. {10} All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. {11} For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. {12} Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. {13} He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. {14} The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. {15} My eyes are ever toward the LORD, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. {16} Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. {17} The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! {18} Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. {19} Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. {20} Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. {21} Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. {22} Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles! Amen.

    Second Lesson: MAT 18:7-14

    “Woe to the world because of offences! For offences must come, but woe to that man by whom the offence comes! {8} “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. {9} “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. {10} “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. {11} “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. {12} “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? {13} “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. {14} “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Amen.

    Third Lesson: HH 509

    When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment; and there is no regard for person, whether one had been in the world a king or a servant. Every evil carries its punishment with it, the two making one; therefore whoever is in evil is also in the punishment of evil. And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does; although it amounts to the same and is the same thing whether it be said that men suffer punishment on account of their evils in the world or that they suffer punishment on account of the evils they do in the other life, since every one after death returns into his own life and thus into like evils; and the man continues the same as he had been in the life of the body (n. 470-484). Men are punished for the reason that the fear of punishment is the sole means of subduing evils in this state. Exhortation is no longer of any avail, neither is instruction or fear of the law and of the loss of reputation, since every one then acts from his nature; and that nature can be restrained and broken only by punishments. But good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return. Moreover, I have learned that the evils they did were of a different kind or nature, not being done purposely in opposition to the truth, or from any other badness of heart than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and that they were borne into this by a blind delight when they were in externals separate from internals. Amen.

    Here end the lessons. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.

     


    1 Matthew 18:8-9

    2 Matthew 18:12

    3

    Luke 15:21-24

    4

    John 8:10-11

    5 Matthew 18:13-14